Passive Income Ideas and Sources for Students

passive income ideas for students
Last Updated: 22/02/24

As a student, setting up a stream of passive income can help you achieve financial stability without actively having to work for it.

Passive income is the type of income that doesn’t require much effort from your side. For students, especially full-time students, dedicating time to a business can be challenging. Fortunately, there are multiple online income sources for students that work great long-term and can help you start earning some money without having to put in much effort or time.

In this article, we’re going to talk about some of the best passive income ideas and sources for students.

5 ways you can generate passive income as a student

Let’s dive deeper into some of the most effective online income sources for students:

#1: Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a sales tactic used by businesses that let users promote products and services for them. In return, when a user successfully brings in a sale or a new registration, they will get a small share of the sale or benefits from the business. This is a great way for businesses to encourage more purchases or registrations.

Affiliate marketing presents the ideal opportunity for students to start generating passive income without having to invest or spend their own money. You work with a business that already has products or services they want people to purchase and start earning an income for yourself depending on how many new people you bring to the business.

For example, a brand may offer a 5% commission on every sale made through its affiliate program. If the product you’re promoting costs $100, you can earn $5 for every new sign-up or purchase made through your affiliate link.

#2: Online courses

If you’re knowledgeable about a topic or have a passion for teaching, online courses are a great option to start earning a passive income as a student. Online courses are multiple lessons, usually in text and video form, that people can purchase from you by paying a one-time fee.

For example, if you’re into photography, you can launch a “Photography 101” online course priced at $75. This way, users who want to learn more about photography can get started with online classes by purchasing your online course.

Online courses present an ideal way to generate passive income for students as you don’t have to constantly work on creating new content. You only have to create the online course once and sell it. This is a great way for students to generate a passive stream of income for themselves.

#3: Digital assets

Selling digital assets online is also one of the best ways for students to start generating passive income. For example, if you’re a photographer, you can sell stock photos on stock photography websites. Similarly, if you’re a web developer, you can sell themes, plugins, or apps.

While selling digital assets requires some sort of technical knowledge within an industry, it’s a great option for students who are already learning about the same line of work. If you’re enrolled in a media undergraduate program, you can start gaining experience while earning a passive income for yourself.

#4: Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is another solid option for students to start generating a passive income. If you have a huge social media following or like to cater to a community of like-minded people on social media platforms, influencer marketing might be the best option for you.

This way, you can gain a huge following and reach out to brands to collaborate with or earn sponsorship that pays you.

#5: Blog monetization

Another idea for generating passive income for students is by starting a blog website and monetizing it through memberships. For example, you can let site visitors view premium blog posts after they subscribe to a membership plan. Regular site visitors can only access the “free” parts of your blog site. This way, you can hide premium content on your site behind a paywall and encourage users to pay you a recurring subscription to keep accessing content.

The New York Times is a popular example of blog monetization that features a dynamic paywall on its blog site. A new user can read a few articles for free and then they have to purchase a premium membership plan to keep reading more articles. They limit the number of articles a new user can read to encourage them to subscribe if they’re interested in the content.

What is the best way to generate passive income?

One of the best ways for students to create a source of passive income is by starting a membership-based business. A membership business essentially hides products or content behind a paywall until users subscribe or start paying membership fees. All premium content or products are hidden for regular users while only site visitors with the “member” user role can access it. This not only helps build a brand long-term but is a great way for students to start earning a passive income.

On top of membership-based businesses being a reliable source of recurring passive income, such businesses are also easier to manage and less time-consuming, especially if you’re a full-time or part-time student who has limited time.

Let’s go over some different types of membership-based businesses that can become a passive source of income for students:

  • Content-based. Content-based membership businesses work by offering premium blog posts in exchange for a recurring payment fee. This way, users who subscribe can get access to new blog posts regularly.
  • Educational. You can also offer online courses and lessons on your membership site. For instance, if users want to learn more about photography, they can subscribe to the “Photography membership course” plan. This will give them access to online courses, and premium content based around a specific topic. In addition to offering an effective learning experience, it’s a great way to set up a source of passive income for students, especially those with a passion for teaching.
  • Community-based. Membership sites offer a sense of community. You can create a premium community for your target audience on your membership site. This way, you can charge members a premium fee each month for accessing discussion forms and interacting within the community. You can also offer premium user roles or VIP roles for subscribers who want to pay more in exchange for access to additional features.

Introducing Paid Member Subscriptions

The best way to establish your own membership-based business as a student is by using a dedicated membership plugin like Paid Member Subscriptions.

Paid Member Subscriptions Pro

The easiest way to set up a passive income stream using WordPress.

Get Paid Member Subscriptions

The Paid Member Subscriptions plugin offers an all-in-one solution for transforming your ordinary WordPress site into a full-fledged membership platform. You can create subscription plans, set up paywalls for your content, and create important membership pages like the registration and my account pages.

How to establish your own membership-based business

The great thing about Paid Member Subscriptions is that it’s straightforward to use for establishing your own membership-based business, even if you’re not very tech-savvy. Here’s what you need to do:

Step #1: Install and activate Paid Member Subscriptions

To get started, simply get the plugin and install it on your WordPress site.

To do this, go to Plugins → Add New from the WordPress admin panel. Search for “Paid Member Subscriptions”, click the Install button, and then the Activate button.

Installing Paid Member Subscriptions plugin

This will install the free version of the plugin to your WordPress site.

With the free version of the plugin, you can charge registration fees using standard PayPal and Stripe payments. If you want to offer more payment options, you can purchase the Pro version of the plugin to use PayPal Express and create automatic recurring subscriptions.

In addition to this, the Pro version of the plugin comes pre-built with pre-designed templates that let you give your subscription pages a more professional look and feel without having to do any work yourself. It also includes advanced membership features like content dripping, group memberships, and email reminders.

To install the pro version of the Paid Member Subscriptions plugin, you’ll need to first purchase it and download it from your account page.

Paid Member Subscriptions download

Once that’s done, navigate to Plugins → Add New from the WordPress admin panel and upload the .zip file to your site before clicking on the Install Now button.

Step #2: Set up a subscription plan

Once you have the plugin installed, it’s time to start creating a membership or subscription plan that your target audience can subscribe to. For this, navigate to Paid Member Subscriptions → Subscription Plans and click on the Add New button.

Price option

After giving your subscription plan a title, start adding details like the Price as well as the total duration of the subscription plan. You can also assign a sign-up fee that registrants will be charged before their subscription period starts. It’s a great way to prevent spam registration submissions and fraudsters who want to access only your membership content using the free trial period. Once you’re ready, click on the Save Subscription button to continue.

Step #3: Restrict access to membership content

Now, go to any page that you want to hide behind a paywall or restrict content on and scroll down to the Content Restriction meta box.

Content restriction options

Using the Display For section, select the membership plan you created earlier or click on the All Subscription Plans checkbox if you only have one membership plan created. You can also use the Restriction Type section to select whether to display a custom message or redirect unauthorized users to the subscription registration page. Click on the Update button at the top to save changes.

Users who don’t have the subscription plan will see the custom message or be redirected to the subscription registration page based on the settings configured in the plugin’s back-end settings.

Custom message

Step #4: Create and customize the membership registration page

All that’s left is to create a solid membership registration page that makes it a breeze for regular site visitors to become paid members on your site. The Paid Member Subscriptions plugin makes it very straightforward to create one. All you need to do is create a new page and add the PMS Register Gutenberg block. Make sure to click on the Publish button once you’re ready.

PMS Register block

At this stage, your form might look something like this:

Form preview

If you have the Pro version of the plugin, you can customize how the registration form looks on the front-end using one of the pre-designed templates in the plugin’s settings.

Form design themes

We also recommend that you select the newly created registration page using the Membership Pages section at the bottom.

Membership pages settings

Once you’re done, make sure to click on the Save Settings button to continue. Here’s what the registration form looks like with the Sublime form theme applied to it:

Sublime form theme

You can now start generating passive income by encouraging site visitors to purchase the membership plan to access premium content on your site.


Setting up a membership-based business is one of the best ways for students to start generating passive income long-term.

The best way to do this without worrying about technicalities is by using a dedicated plugin like the Paid Member Subscriptions. It’s not only very easy to use and set up but offers a wide range of options for setting up subscription plans, integrating payment methods, and restricting premium content behind a paywall.

Paid Member Subscriptions Pro

The easiest way to set up a passive income stream using WordPress.

Get Paid Member Subscriptions

Ready to start generating passive income as a student through a membership-based business? Get Paid Member Subscriptions today!

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